Following recent changes in the law relating to family life in Scotland, Archbishop Mario Conti, on behalf of the Bishops of Scotland, has written a pastoral letter on the subject. 65000 copies of the letter have been printed and sent to each of Scotland's 500 Catholic parishes for distribution to Catholic households this weekend (28 - 29 January 2006).
The full text of the letter is shown below, preceded by several bullet points which summarise the concerns of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland.
* The Bishops see a society in moral decline, a civilisation in cultural decay, as our temporal leaders fail to take a global view of society. They respond to particular concerns and pressure groups instead of addressing the common good. Nothing is more fundamental to the common good than the stability of family life.
* The Holy Father recently reminded the British Ambassador to the Holy See that fidelity to Europe s traditions requires us to acknowledge the indispensable role of stable marriage and family life for the good of society.
* The letter notes that while the registering of the new civil partnerships does not appear to be limited to those who form them on the basis of sexual orientation, nonetheless it was to benefit the latter that recent legislation was passed. This diminishes the special status of marriage. While some say it is no business of the state to interfere in what consenting adults do, it is equally arguable that it is not wise of the state to accord civil partnerships privileges reserved until now to married couples.
* The document makes the Church s position clear. Nobody should be excluded from society, nor from benefiting from the common good on account of their sexual orientation, but this is quite different to according the expression of such sexuality an equivalence in law and public esteem to that of conjugal love.
* To all who look to the teaching of the Church for guidance, the Bishops say: All sexual intercourse outside of marriage is wrong, and within marriage such intercourse must always be ordered to the procreation of new life. The act by which a man and woman love one another is the same act, in the design of the creator, by which the love of God brings to birth new human life.
* The Bishops challenge society to promote family life, by assisting young married couples to find affordable accommodation, offering them counselling in preparation for marriage and conciliation services where circumstances require them. They commend those initiatives which offer parenting skills and assistance to those finding difficulty coping as parents.
The full text of the Pastoral Letter is given below:
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